Precis: Claim: There is a science of human learning, that leads to demystifying learning and debunking many assumptions in education
I promised that I would provide a “a cognitive science model of human learning referenced from the research papers, in essence the history of this model will show how two competing theories of the human nature came to dominate education and science”. (Please see the copy of the original email text below this one).
The page is called “The Science of Learning”
The general principle I am taking is one of falsification (more on that is here) , it is a scientific principle to discard what does not work experimentally in favour of either the unknown or better theories. Unfortunately educational research failed to do that since the middle of the 1970’s when the split between it and Cognitive Science started to occur – outlined below in .
The result was that cognitive science expanded into many other applied domains such as psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology and medicine (cognitive behavioural therapy for example) and only now begun to sweep into education.
1. In the last few years we have moved from discarded theories of learning rooted in Piaget such as Constructivism to ‘whatever works’ To Cognitive science models that incorporates whatever works.
2. For example Constructivism doesn’t provide a complete model for learning because it ignores the scientific model for human memory.
This model states that a human being will only construct an understanding to the extent that they;
1. pay attention,
2. encode the knowledge of the topic by understanding and memorising the;
c. relationships (between concepts, between facts and between concepts and facts, normally expressed as an If...Then statement)
d. and sequences (also known as ‘procedural knowledge’, ‘cognitive routines’ or ‘skills') (This was the area my TLA looked at last year – encoding)
3. and avoid overloading their short term (working) memories which only lasts for a couple of minutes, hence the need to reduce pace and variety as these introduce new instructions and processing.
(Eggen, 2010: Azevedo & Cromley, 2004).
4. Store the newly acquired knowledge in long term memory by deliberate independent practice (rather than independent / discovery learning).
5. Retrieve from long term memory after a period of deliberate forgetting the knowledge which includes skills (sequences) that need to be practiced to automaticity.
(Eggen, 2010; Feldon, 2007a; Peladuau, Forget, & Gagne, 2003).
6. The Cognitive Science model of learning with suggestions as to what to do in school both in terms of curriculum design and the classroom can be found here.
The page is called “The Science of Learning”
7. These suggestions can be used instead of Hattie’s and are more solidly backed up than those of the Sutton Trust, who do not always cite the research paper(s) they are using to identify and rank their claims, (though other claims are well cited) for example that ‘setting does not work’ – I and others have been looking for the citations and cannot find them in the report publicised here.
8. For example Graeme asked me if I had any alternatives to the Sutton Trust and other evidence in relation to ideas about using the pupil premium effectively at the start of term and I could not offer him much other than nobody really knows what is effective for using pupil premium money which he had already worked out himself. There are Ofsted case studies but these are not evidenced.
Today I would suggest that he examines these Cognitive Science recommendations (as I have now found the research papers to back up their claims) the decision to use them remains yours and his from the “The Science of Learning”
9. I’ve also provided the evidence of how Piaget lost the debate set up between Chomsky and him in 1975 and as a result that the watching scientists mainly biologists swung behind Chomsky’s theory.
Chomsky wanted to avoid a debate and instead have an exchange of ideas and evidence, Piaget refused and insisted on a debate and demonstrated that his theory was underpinned by the discredited evolutionary theory of Lamarckism .
This was the start of the split between cognitive science (modularity of the mind with thinking in parallel) and educational research (hierarchical and transferable thinking skills) in which Piaget’s model dominated until a few years ago.
10. Following on from Piaget are also a debunking of the
1. ‘learning pyramid’
2. and the ‘forgetting curve’,
3. finishing with the ineffectiveness of Blooms (which you will have already seen from the TLA)
Ysanne was kind enough to clarify that a teacher did not have to use Blooms, as long as they could explain what questioning framework they were using and why.
This was much appreciated as some staff are using alternatives (such as Socrative questioning, or other cognitively science based or combinations of both with Blooms ) whilst others may wish to continue to Blooms as a framework,
The Cognitive Science model I will use for my TLA this year. (This will be an internal TLA that will not be accredited to avoid a cost to the school, I will simply use the framework to evidence my attempt to use the model).
I hope you find the model as useful as I in explaining why things work and do not and in simplifying what to do.